| Mahela Jayawardene
Brisbane: Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene is confident his team will be able to take the fight to Australia in next month’s two-Test series.
Sri Lanka open their tour with two three-day matches before the first Test in Brisbane beginning on November 8.
While no touring team has won a series in Australia since the great West Indies side of 1993, the Sri Lankan captain said an attack missing the recently retired Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne was a key area to target.
“I think with Glenn and Shane not being there, they probably lack a bit of experience in their bowling attack, that is an area we can look forward to,” Jayawardene said upon arrival in Adelaide.
The Sri Lanka captain said they have the edge over Australia’s bowling attack, with veteran Chaminda Vaas, paceman Lasith Malinga and the fast-improving Dilhara Fernando all established in the Test arena.
The tourists also have off-spinner Muttiah Muralidharan waiting in the wings, who needs nine more wickets to break Warne’s world record 708 Test dismissals.
Australia will rely on Brett Lee and the steady Stuart Clark, but their likely back-ups, Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait, are unknown quantities at the Test level.
Newly appointed Sri Lankan coach Trevor Bayliss said he believed the pitches would suit his bowlers as much as they did the Australians.
“I think the (Sri Lankan) pace attack is extremely strong,” the Australian said.
Sri Lanka’s first warm-up match is against a Cricket Australia chairman’s XI at Adelaide Oval from Saturday. The second Test in Hobart starts on November 16.
The talismanic Muralidharan also arrived on Wednesday for his first full Australia Test tour in 12 years, bracing for a chilly reception from fans as he bids to break Warne’s Test record.
“He hasn’t played here for a while in a Test and he’s pretty geared up I think. He feels Australia is one of the places that he has to challenge himself,” Jayawardene said.
“This is probably a place where he has to prove he’s one of the top bowlers in the world, so I think he’s looking forward to the challenge.”
There are fears that Muralidharan could receive barracking in Australia, where he has been called for “throwing” on two previous tours and subjected to constant crowd calls of “no ball.”
Bayliss said there were “always idiots in every crowd” and it was near impossible to control the behaviour of fans.
“I don’t know whether you’re going to stop that 100 per cent,” Bayliss said.
Jayawardene said his team would challenge Australia but not get so carried away as to be involved in the antics seen in India. “We have to be very aggressive with Australia, but to a certain extent sometimes if you go overboard you lose your own concentration as well, and we certainly don’t want that to happen,” he told a press conference.